Men are better drivers than women. That’s a known fact, right? Nearly all of competitive race car drivers are men. In the old days, men drove women, not the other way around. The age-old idea that women are worse drivers than men is assumed to be true.
The truth: Not only are women as good as men at driving, but according to their driving records, they are actually better. Administered by students for a course, a recent survey of more than 200 College students revealed 23 percent of men compared to 13 percent of women received speeding tickets and 11 percent of men compared to 3 percent of women had received reckless/careless driving tickets. When it came to involvement in accidents, 18 percent of men had caused accidents compared to 5 percent of women.
The surveyed drivers also rated their own driving ability on a scale of one to 10. Men’s average self-rating was 8.3, while women ranked themselves lower with an average of only 7.7. Incidentally, men who had caused more than one accident actually rated themselves around 8.5, while for women it went down to 6.0. Men who had accidents and tickets on average rated themselves at 8.3, while women rated themselves at a much lower 6.6.
The results seemed to portray the real reason for men’s top-level driving rating may be more closely related to excessive pride.
Nelson Rodriguez, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies, shed some light on this phenomenon. According to Rodriguez, cars play a major role in how people construct their identity.
Men think, “If you’re not good at driving, you’re feminizing your driving . and not fulfilling your manly power,” Rodriguez said.
The media have played a large role in making driving into a masculine sport. Movies like “The Transporter,” “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Fast and the Furious” equate speedy driving and slick maneuvers with masculinity.
“Stereotypes can and do direct behavior,” Mary Lynn Hopps, program director of Women in Learning and Leadership, said. She noted it is not surprising that women rate themselves lower because women will internalize the stereotype.
What can be done to stop these stereotypes? Both professors agreed the most important thing is to raise awareness. Despite the notion that men are better drivers, all people need to realize driving is about being safe and aware, regardless of gender.